Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)

The Relationship Between Sleep and Driving Performance

Publication Date



Sciences and Mathematics, College of


Psychological Science, Department of

BURS Faculty Advisor

Dr. Michael Oliver

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


In sleep-deprived individuals, there has been an observed decline in vigilance, decision-making skills, visuomotor performance, and working memory (Alhola, 2007). Each of these cognitive functions plays a vital role in our daily lives and impacts one's driving performance (Alhola, 2007; Jackson et al., 2013). Daytime sleepiness, along with irregular sleep schedules are not uncommon amongst college students. This becomes an issue when a sleep-deprived driver is putting others on the road at risk. In one study looking at the consequences of sleepiness in college students, 50% of participants reported daytime sleepiness, and 70% reported attaining insufficient sleep (Hershner & Chervin, 2014). At this point in time, there is a gap in the knowledge regarding the effects of sleep deprivation on driving performance, specifically in college students. To address this gap, the current study aims to look at the relationship between both sleep quality and quantity in relation to driving. We hypothesize that individuals with better sleep quality, as well as increased sleep quantity, will have better driving performance when compared to their counterparts with poor sleep. To test our hypotheses, participants completed a driving assessment performed on a City Car Driving Enterprise Driving Simulator, and sleep quality was measured using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI). Findings indicate that there was not a significant correlation between sleep and driving performance (r = 0.012, p = 0.965). Further research should investigate other factors that could possibly contribute to an individual’s driving performance such as fatigue, stress, and attention span.

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